Anthropology students present to board

“40 hours a week, eight hours a day, soaring temperatures, and you’re stuck at the bottom of a hole.  And, I paid SIUE for this experience,” said Kate Jamruk, senior anthropology major at SIUE.   “And I am sure I would do it again.”  So began an interesting presentation to an interested board of trustees.

Kate Jamruk, senior anthropology major, begins her presentation to the SIUE board of trustees.

Four Students from the Department of Anthropology in SIUE’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) presented their summer work to the board on Thursday, September 8, 2011.  The presentation was entitled “SIUE Archeology Field School at the Gerhig Site”.  The students were selected due to their participation in the 2011 summer anthropology field school which took place at the Gerhig site.

Presenting to the board were Jamruk; Steven Greenleaf, senior anthropology major; Shannon Murphy, 2011 graduate in anthropology; and Dan Blodgett, 2011 graduate in anthropology.  They presented along with Greg Vogel, assistant professor of anthropology.

The field school gives students the chance to put their class work to use as well as begin their senior project, a requirement to graduate.  The summer course also allowed the students to interact with an archeological site in a way that many people never have the opportunity.

SIUE's College of Arts and Sciences anthropology department students and alumni present to the board of trustees, from left to right, Kate Jamruk, Steven Greeenleaf, Shannon Murphey (alumna), and Dan Blodgett (alumnus).

“We get to see things and work directly with artifacts that a lot of people don’t get to see or work with,” said Blodgett.  “We’re trying to uncover the past which a lot of people are interested in but a lot of people never get to work with it.”

Blodgett is an example of the effectiveness of the anthropology department at SIUE and the field school program.  Blodgett turned his work into a research paper that he entered into the Jeanette Stevens Undergraduate Research Paper competition sponsored by Illinois Archeological Survey (IAS).  His paper won the contest.  SIUE’s anthropology students have won the contest every year except one since it began in 2005.  Blodgett presented his paper “”Lithic Analysis: An In-depth Look at Surface Collections from the Gehring Site” this past weekend at the 55th Annual IAS Conference.

SIUE anthropology students have also won the Mid-West Archeological Conferences Student Paper Competition three of the past five years.

The summer field school is an 8 week long, 40 hours per week, intensive hand’s on learning experience that prepares undergraduate students for either a career or graduate school, according to Vogel.  This statement was reiterated by Ann Boyle, interim provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs, as she introduced the presentation to the board.

Boyle stated that SIUE is unique because of having an active archeological site on campus.

“I’m not aware of any other university that can have an archeological active site right on their campus. That allows our students to do their field studies continuously throughout the year.  They don’t have to travel to remote sites,” said Boyle.  “I think that enhances their ability for them to really do the on-site research that turns their undergraduate experience into something very much more like a graduate experience.  I think that’s tremendously unique and a strength of our program.”

Greenleaf stated in his presentation that he participated in the 2010 field school and returned to work this year as Vogel’s undergraduate assistant.  He said he was able to hand off knowledge that he gained from his experience from last summer that diminished the learning curve for this summer’s students.

Anthropology department students discuss the summer field school with Ann Boyle, interim provost and vice chancellor of academic affairs.

Murphy stated that she learned that teamwork is crucial because at one point she was literally over her head in the excavation and was unable to throw the dirt out of the hole.  Murphy also used this summer to work an internship in the sub-field of geo-archeology in which she compiled data that she will use in a paper she is co-authoring with Vogel.

The interaction between students and faculty is one aspect that increases student knowledge, skills and abilities.

“This is a great example of how our faculty interact with students,” said Vaughn Vandegrift, chancellor of SIUE.  “In particular, today, the anthropology department has been asked to represent our faculty and I think you can see the value of faculty working with students”

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